Monday, October 1, 2007

How I got here, Part 8: To the Present Day

Well, I figured I better at least post an official closure to my play-by-play telling of how I got published and where I am today. I hope I haven't bored anyone to tears. Unless you're a jerk, in which case I hope you got so bored you died. (wow, that was quite invigorating)

So I got my contract, turned in the book, breathed a sigh of relief when everyone said they liked the finished draft. Like I said before, I kinda skipped here all the wonderful people who looked over my book BEFORE I turned it in, but that would really be boring except to those who did me the favor. You'll get your slap on the back when you see the eagerly-anticipated Acknowledgements section (in which Peter Jackson and chickens are also mentioned).

And so began the editing process with my talented, brilliant, lovely, stupendous, invigorating (is that enough, Lisa?) editor, Lisa Mangum. Imagine my surprise when she gave me 7 single-spaced pages of notes for suggested changes. At first I wanted to throw up but then felt much better when I realized none of it was TOO major. My plot and characters as a whole were safe.

That was Round One. I rewrote. Then came Round Two. More changes. I rewrote. Then came Round Three. Rewrote. [UPDATE: be sure and read the comments so you can catch a glimpse of Lisa and what I have to deal with]

Then Chris (Product Director) read it, Round Four. Rewrote. Then the kid focus group, Round Five. Rewrote. Then "The Board", whoever the heck that is, Round Six. Rewrote. Somewhere in there, I think Lisa gave me some more ideas, because I seem to remember seven rounds.

But all in all, it was fun. They (collectively, but most kudos to Lisa) improved the book dramatically. What I had considered a pretty decent story had become a really publishable, ready-to-be-devoured novel. This is the hope, in any case.

Somewhere in all this, the name of the main character (Mason McGee) was changed to Atticus Higginbottom. Atticus was actually the name of my character in a book I wrote called THE WORLD SIFTER, which is sitting on my computer, waiting for its day in the sun. Chris wanted a more unusual, catchy name, so I cannabilized my own story.

It really took awhile to reconcile that in my mind. Mason had become a part of me, and suddenly he was Atticus. It was doubly confusing because Atticus was a completely different character in my mind as well. But it was a good change and my brain finally accepted it.

Also, originally the story was called THE NINETEENTH REALITY. When Chris gave his pitch to "The Committee", whoever the heck that is, he accidentally called it THE THIRTEENTH REALITY, and everyone liked it so much it stuck. That made for a little adjusting in my plans, but not much. It's only a number. Somewhere later, the number was used instead of the word, and now it is offically THE 13TH REALITY.

I think I've brought you up to speed. I'm now working on the sequel, which is tentatively called THE PLAGUE OF DARK INFINITY. Shadow Mountain had me map out the series as five books, so that's where it stands now. But each book will stand alone much more than my Jimmy Fincher series, which was really one big book sliced and diced into four. But, of course, there is a huge arc that goes over the whole series of THE 13TH REALITY.

Whew. Breathe in, breathe out.

And so, here I am, anxiously awaiting the month of March. I have no idea what to expect. This is a brutal industry. An unpredictable industry. If there were a magical formula for bestsellers, then every book that came out would be one. But there isn't. Despite all the work, all the editing and rewriting, despite all the planned marketing, you just never know.

In the end, only one thing will matter. You, Reader, and your opinion.


Dedee said...

I'm going to buy the book just for the acknowledgements! Chickens?

I'm still laughing about the bored comment!

Annette Lyon said...

You've got a great team in your corner, which many good books/authors don't have. So methinks you've got a terrific shot of making it big. Just remember us little people when you're rich and famous--and buy me a car or something.

cherstine willis said...

Hi James,

Remember me? I am Dan Willis' wife. I remember a dinner we had with you and your wife years ago when your little girl was just a baby...

I have been "catching up" on your story and I am thrilled with your success! I have to say that the more I read your and some other writers blogs I am getting kind of excited about writing myself. You guys are inspirational!!! Plus I can't wait to get my hands on your 13th Reality.

James Dashner said...

Dedee, chickens don't get nearly enough acknowledgement, ya know?

Speak of the devil - Annette Lyon is in that section, too! (though she has nothing to do with the chickens)

Cherstine, I definitely remember you. After all, we both have daughters named Kayla. And if this blog actually fulfilled its purpose and inspired someone to write, I will be the happiest person on Earth. Do it!

Tamra Norton said...

Can't wait to read the edventures of Atticus. So when do I get my hands on that ARC? :)

Tamra Norton said...

Oops! *Ad-ventures! I suppose that's why we're supposed to hit preview first.

Dedee said...

Chickens defifnitely deserve much more kudos than they get and I'm so proud of you for realizing that they have been discriminated against and stepping up to the plate. It must have been a difficult decision, but just know that your efforts on their behalf do not go unnoticed.

James Dashner said...

ARCs are going to take longer than they thought. This is actually a good thing because the reason is that they are doing a larger print run than they originally planned.

But I was told they'd be done by the last week of October.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as James's editor, the Acknowledgments are some of the best writing I've seen from him in a long time. Chickens will never be the same again. :)

Seriously, James, it was a joy to work on your book and all I can say is that the time you took to rewrite the book during all those rounds of feedback and revisions really, really made my job easier.

Now get those galleys back to me on time so we can stay on schedule! *whip crack*

Your slave-driving editor,
Lisa Mangum

James Dashner said...

See what I have to deal with? You think that's a figurative whip?

Not so sure I'm pleased that my acknowledgements section is some of the best writing you've seen in a long time. :-)

My turn to be serious: Lisa is freaking awesome and you should all submit to her. Unless your writing sucks. Or unless it's so good that you will make Lisa forget about me.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

It was fascinating to read about the process you went through. Sounds like you've be very, very blessed. Deserving of it, of course, 'cause hey, you're fabulous! Still, what an incredible team you've got there.

Jeff Savage said...


Can't believe you are saying all those nice things about Lisa now. That's not what you said over lunch. Or was that supposed to a secret?

Tristi Pinkston said...

Eagerly anticipating my ARC . . .

Luisa Perkins said...

Oooh, Jeff is so sneaky! :D And Lisa sounds awesome (trying hard not to kiss up).

Dude, I love this whole story, Parts 1-8. It's very helpful to me as a writer. Thanks for posting it.

James Dashner said...

Kim and Luisa, thanks for the nice comments. If my rambling helps someone, I'll be simultaneously shocked and ecstatic. :-)

Jeff, stuff it.

Tristi, patience. It's gone to press.

Anonymous said...

Hey! So, I don't have a blog, but if I send you my new address, will you send your awesome neice an ARC? I'm so excited to read this! =)

Lauren Lavon said...

Can I just say, you're way funny and I love your book! When I first read the description I was like "WOW! That sounds AMAZING." So I drove all over just to find it. No, seriously I traveled about 10 miles. I guess my expectations were a little low, because this book is not only amazing, it's brilliant! I can't put it down and I am going to be first in line for the next one!

Thanks so much for all you do, you are an amazing writer and I am recommending you to all my friends.

Sharon said...

Wow, that's one heck of a journey! The day I learned that your new book was out I couldn't wait for my sister to check it out and later for my mother to buy it for me.
I finished it in about one day...I was up all night long, until my eyes were going out of focus from the lack of sleep, then I took a two hour break and got up promptly at 8:00 the day after it came out and continued reading.
Sadly I had a few activities to attend and of course I brought the book with me. =D
I finished it that day at 1:oo in the afternoon.

It was the best book I had ever read in my entire life! Really, it was great. And I continued to force my sisters into reading it. They all love your books.(I had done the same thing with Jimmy Fincher, and I'm still sharing my copies with my friends.)

I can't wait for the next one, and if it helps to know my dad is waiting as well.

James Dashner said...

Thank you, Shay, for all of your awesome comments throughout the blog. I'm glad you found us!